Reclaimed – “Weekend in Helsinki”

August 14, 2012 Off By JR

Well that is partially true. Saturday morning some of my new friends and I went to the nearby Alepa to purchase groceries for the day. This was crucial if we were to stay energetic for our ‘wild life and sauna’ trip organized by the HSS social program. We hopped on the bus at about 11am and also stopped to pick up the students who are staying at the apartments. After about an hour of travel we arrived near (but not in) I think the closest national park to Helsinki. I cannot recall the name, maybe a fellow blogger will help me out here. One of our guides proceeded to inform us that while usually the berries are fine (and if they make you sick its not so bad) that we should avoid all the mushrooms or else we would be in serious trouble healthwise. I think I have a better grasp of his sense of humour now than I did then, but I was not taking any chances!

So we began by breaking into groups and my group started with canoeing. A few of the other students have done this before (of course this is a somewhat regular activity at home for me) so I was able to help the others. It was great! The lake felt so much like home, just with more rocks. I paired with another student from my course and we raced a few other groups after a couple of laps. We joked about it being our Olympics (whoo! go Canada).

After our little journey on the lake we went on a hike. The area was beautiful (still very familiar to home, just slightly different vegetation) and in some places some kind of lican, maybe, was growing on the whole floor of the woods, making the walk almost like a bouncy castle. We went down into a valley where all of the runoff collects and flows in a stream, to the top of a hill that overlooked the lake area. Absolutely gorgeous.

In the late afternoon we went to the sauna (about 90 degrees) and of course then we jumped in the lake (maybe 16 degrees). It was such a temperature difference! But so refreshing. We did this again and again. Apparently there was a snake in the lake near the end, but I saw/felt nothing. It had quite a few people startled though. We stopped to bbq dinner and then home. A few of us then went for more dinner and found a place where we could have a relaxing beverage and danced until early morning. The perfect day to wrap up our first week.

The next day we went to the botanical gardens to try some “Finnish Odditites”. They had Nordic Walking, dancing, food, and of course Molkky. I played a round of Molkky, tried the Nordic Walking and ate. I also watched the dancing, but I think I was kaput from the night before. The weather has held up for us this weekend, I am thankful for that, and maybe just a little sunburnt.